This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
When Crystal Palace signed Martin Kelly for just £1.5m back in 2014, it didn’t feel like the most exciting addition in the world.
Out-of-favour at Liverpool, the England international decided to start a fresh challenge under Tony Pulis at Selhurst Park, only to see the Welshman quit just hours after Kelly had put pen to paper.
“I didn’t think I trained that badly!”
These were the words of the 6 foot 3 Liverpool academy graduate following Pulis’ shock exit, but Kelly’s time at Palace has often been full of instability.
The defender has played under Pulis – for a matter of hours – Neil Warnock, Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce, Frank de Boer and Roy Hodgson in just over five years in south London, but this season, he is coming to the fore under the latter, a man who handed him his England debut.
Kelly has thrived under Hodgson this season, helping the 72-year-old and the Palace squad up to tenth in the Premier League table, just seven points off the Champions League positions.
However, there are some standout numbers from the nine games that the No.34 has started this term.
Having played a peripheral role in the previous campaign – making just 12 starts as Aaron Wan-Bissaka dominated the right-back position while Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins were immovable in the centre of defence – Kelly’s attitude and professionalism has been exceptional this season as the two aforementioned centre-backs have struggled with injuries, while Wan-Bissaka has since left.
It is a credit to the 29-year-old that he performs so capably at both right-back and at centre-back, and effectively in terms of getting results as the aforesaid statistics prove.
Kelly – who recently said that he’s been “happy to help the team” – is truly performing with real impact.
“I’ve been happy to help the team with the wins. It’s been good for me to come in – I think it’s been a couple of seasons since I played fullback. Fitness-wise you always feel like it’s a change from centre-back but you’ve got to be fit enough to play wherever.”
In other news, this Crystal Palace transfer target endured a miserable outing in what was a massive game for his side…